IBM Makes Pivotal Move to Support Cloud Foundry PaaS

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-07-24

IBM Makes Pivotal Move to Support Cloud Foundry PaaS

IBM and Pivotal announced that the two companies will collaborate on further development of the Cloud Foundry platform and open-source project and work toward establishing an open governance model for the community.

In essence, IBM has agreed to put its considerable weight behind Pivotal’s Cloud Foundry as the platform of choice for building cloud-based applications. Cloud Foundry is an interoperable platform-as-a-service (PaaS) framework that allows users to have freedom of choice across cloud infrastructure and application programming models, and cloud applications.

Working with more than 9,000 cloud clients, IBM sees an increasing appetite for cloud-based mobile, social and analytics applications from line-of-business executives, the company said. CIOs need a more open and vibrant cloud development platform, such as Cloud Foundry, to meet that demand and avoid vendor lock-in. An open Cloud Foundry platform enables clients to rapidly build, deploy and manage cloud applications in a more agile and scalable manner, with confidence. For example, a retailer can quickly create an e-commerce app to take advantage of a current promotion that could run on various cloud infrastructures.

IBM and Pivotal made their announcement at the O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) in Portland, Ore.

“When you’re working at the application layer, if you have Cloud Foundry as the way to build cloud-based apps, you’ll have an easier time of doing that,” Angel Diaz, IBM’s vice president of software standards and cloud labs, told eWEEK. “We had a solid infrastructure story. The piece missing was what we were doing around the platform—the PaaS.”

“Cloud Foundry's potential to transform business is vast, and steps like the one taken today help open the ecosystem up for greater client innovation,” said Daniel Sabbah, general manager of Next Generation Platforms at IBM, in a statement. “IBM will incorporate Cloud Foundry into its open cloud architecture, and put its full support behind Cloud Foundry as an open and collaborative platform for cloud application development, as it has done historically for key technologies such as Linux and OpenStack.”

Indeed, Diaz likens IBM’s support for Cloud Foundry to what Big Blue has done with OpenStack and says he expects IBM to be just as involved with the Cloud Foundry effort as it has been with OpenStack and the OpenStack Foundation. He said IBM will be very active in the Cloud Foundry community and will contribute code to the project, just as it has to OpenStack—where IBM is the No. 2 contributor to that effort, Diaz noted.

IBM Makes Pivotal Move to Support Cloud Foundry PaaS

Moreover, as was the case with OpenStack, IBM considered providing its own solution in the open PaaS offering, but decided to go with an established project.

“Cloud Foundry already had a number of users and was already going at a good trajectory,” Diaz said. “It was the same thing we said about OpenStack. There already is a community. This whole cloud platform layer is emerging, and there’s lots of opportunity to innovate together. And if we can use this stuff out in the open and innovate faster and better, then we all can benefit. At the end of the day, this is a layer of technology where you don’t want proprietary technologies.”

Pivotal will establish a community advisory board of Cloud Foundry users and vendors—including IBM—to guide the community as outlined on the Cloud Foundry site. Pivotal will continue to steward the Cloud Foundry brand and preserve the trademark from direct commercial use in product names. IBM and Pivotal will co-host a community conference for Cloud Foundry Sept. 8-9 in Santa Clara, Calif.

“We believe that the Cloud Foundry platform has the potential to become an extraordinary asset that many players can leverage in an open way to enable a new generation of applications for the cloud,” said Paul Maritz, CEO of Pivotal, in a statement. “IBM’s considerable investment in Cloud Foundry is already producing great results with application-centric cloud offerings such as making IBM WebSphere Liberty available on Cloud Foundry. We look forward to growing and expanding an open Cloud Foundry community together with IBM.”

IBM and Pivotal are also collaborating on the technology that enables programming languages or frameworks to be deployed on the Cloud Foundry platform. Early fruit of this collaboration is a preview version of WebSphere Application Server Liberty Core, IBM’s lightweight version of the WebSphere Application Server. It helps clients respond to enterprise and market needs more quickly by enabling less complex, rapid development and deployment of Web, mobile, social and analytic applications using fewer resources. With the capabilities of the WebSphere Application Server Liberty Core running on Cloud Foundry, developers benefit from the robustness of the WebSphere platform and the innovation of the emerging cloud architecture.

“This is a significant new endorsement from a giant of enterprise software that will give Cloud Foundry even more credibility,” said Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC. “Given this announcement, I expect to see IBM invest in this project and help drive its governance forward to really achieve critical mass. Cloud Foundry has already garnered significant support from many players and has built up an ecosystem, but putting IBM's imprimatur and resources behind it will be felt in the industry.”

Platform, the upcoming Cloud Foundry Conference, will be a community event focused on Cloud Foundry. The two-day event will feature presentations by the thought leaders behind the technology as well as community presentations by companies that are using Cloud Foundry to build a new class of dynamic, agile, elastic and intelligent application platform. More information on the event can be found here.


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